You may have heard that you should aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. How much you should actually drink is more individualized than you might think. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) currently recommends that men should drink at least 104 ounces of water per day, which is 13 cups. They say women should drink at least 72 ounces, which is 9 cups. Even still, the answer to exactly how much water you should drink isn’t so simple.
Water recommendationsWhile the eight glasses rule is a good start, it isn’t based on solid, well-researched information. Your body weight is made up of 60 percent water. Every system in your body needs water to function. Your recommended intake is based on factors including your sex, age, activity level, and others, such as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
AdultsThe current IOM recommendation for people ages 19 and older is around 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. This is your overall fluid intake per day, including anything you eat or drink containing water in it, like fruits or vegetables.
Of this total, men should drink around 13 cups from beverages. For women, it’s 9 cups.
Recommendations for kids have a lot to do with age. Girls and boys between ages 4 and 8 years should drink 40 ounces per day, or five cups. This amount increases to 56 to 64 ounces, or 7 to 8 cups, by ages 9 to 13 years. For ages 14 to 18, the recommended water intake is 64 to 88 ounces, or 8 to 11 cups.
Women of reproductive ageIf you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your recommendations change. Pregnant women of all ages should aim to get 80 ounces, or ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Breastfeeding women may need to up their total water intake to 104 ounces, or 13 cups.
Daily recommended amount of water (from drinks)
children 4–8 years old
5 cups, or 40 total ounces
children 9–13 years old
7–8 cups, or 56–64 total ounces
children 14–18 years old
8–11 cups, or 64–88 total ounces
men, 19 years and older
13 cups, or 104 total ounces
women, 19 years and older
9 cups, or 72 total ounces
10 cups, or 80 total ounces
13 cups, or 104 total ounces
You may also need to drink more water if you live in a hot climate, exercise often, or have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Why do you need water?
Water is important for most processes your body goes through in a day. When you drink water, you replenish your stores. Without enough water, your body and its organs can’t function properly.
Benefits of drinking water include:
There are risks of drinking too little or too much water.
Your body is constantly using and losing fluids through actions like sweating and urinating. Dehydration happens when your body loses more water or fluid than it takes in.
Symptoms of dehydration can range from being extremely thirsty to feeling fatigued. You may also notice you aren’t urinating as frequently or that your urine is dark. In children, dehydration may cause a dry mouth and tongue, lack of tears while crying, and fewer wet diapers than usual.
Dehydration may lead to:
Drinking too much water may be dangerous to your health as well. When you drink too much, the extra water can dilute the electrolytes in your blood. Your sodium levels decrease and can lead to what is called hyponatremia.
TakeawayStaying hydrated goes beyond just the water you drink. Foods make up around 20 percent of your total fluid requirements each day. Along with drinking your 9 to 13 daily cups of water, try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
Some foods with high water content include: